Kirk Nelson

Kirk Nelson

Kirk Nelson is a professional graphic designer and photographer in the DC area. With 25 years of experience that has touched on a broad range of visual subjects he refers to himself as ‘Your Friendly Neighborhood Graphics Geek’.

The latest streaming Star Wars series shows us a dark time in the life of fan-favorite Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi is hiding in the sandy dunes of Tatooine and has lost much of his confidence. The series is reminiscent of old samurai films where a lost rōnin has to find his path once more. The marketing art for the series serves as the inspiration for this piece, showing a sand-swept, forlorn hero.  In this project, we explore some great free brush sets from Adobe’s website, and how to use them to get a gritty, sandy effect that just might have you wondering how moisture farming actually wo...

CRAFT YOUR OWN SAND-SWEPT SAMURAI EFFECT close

The latest streaming Star Wars series shows us a dark time in the life of fan-favorite Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi is hiding in the sandy dunes of Tatooine and has lost much of his confidence. The series is reminiscent of old samurai films where a lost rōnin has to find his path once more. The marketing art for the series serves as the inspiration for this piece, showing a sand-swept, forlorn hero.  In this project, we explore some great free brush sets from Adobe’s website, and how to use them to get a gritty, sandy effect that just might have you wondering how moisture farming actually wo...

There’s a handful of recent entertainment properties that bank on the sweet nostalgia of the 1980s. Even the recent Marvel series Moon Knight featured glimpses of an old pulp adventure show recorded on VHS tapes. The whole idea is still deliciously inspiring and a lot of fun to craft yourself in Photoshop. In this project we take a blank VHS mockup and create our own label design inspired from the adventure films of the 80s, but with our own unique spin. Grab your fedora and follow along on this old school adventure!  STEP ONE: In Photoshop, use File>New to open the New Document dialo...

Going Old School with Adventures in VHS Cover Designs close

There’s a handful of recent entertainment properties that bank on the sweet nostalgia of the 1980s. Even the recent Marvel series Moon Knight featured glimpses of an old pulp adventure show recorded on VHS tapes. The whole idea is still deliciously inspiring and a lot of fun to craft yourself in Photoshop. In this project we take a blank VHS mockup and create our own label design inspired from the adventure films of the 80s, but with our own unique spin. Grab your fedora and follow along on this old school adventure!  STEP ONE: In Photoshop, use File>New to open the New Document dialo...

Rainy nights in the city are a curious experience. The precipitation creates reflective surfaces everywhere while the vibrant lights of the urban setting create a supersaturated, surreal environment. This project attempts to capture some of that unique sensory experience. Having a model holding a vibrant glowing neon umbrella while happily skipping through the rain creates a beacon of energy that refuses to succumb to dreariness of the weather. It’s an uplifting visual message. Plus, it’s a fun opportunity to play with filters in Photoshop!  Here, we’ll use two images from Adobe Stock, b...

CREATE A GLOWING DIGITAL NEON UMBRELLA EFFECT close

Rainy nights in the city are a curious experience. The precipitation creates reflective surfaces everywhere while the vibrant lights of the urban setting create a supersaturated, surreal environment. This project attempts to capture some of that unique sensory experience. Having a model holding a vibrant glowing neon umbrella while happily skipping through the rain creates a beacon of energy that refuses to succumb to dreariness of the weather. It’s an uplifting visual message. Plus, it’s a fun opportunity to play with filters in Photoshop!  Here, we’ll use two images from Adobe Stock, b...

Crafting fun title treatments is one of those tasks for which Photoshop seems intentionally built. Who doesn’t love a bright, shiny metallic title? Accomplishing this effectively is an exploration in layer styles and other filters, but it goes way beyond just basic Bevel & Emboss. The key is understanding the limitations of the styles and working to apply them within those constraints. Sometimes that means creating multiple layers for a single line of text; sometimes it means folding smart objects inside other smart objects. In any case, it’s a fun journey with great results! (This effe...

CREATE YOUR OWN METALLIC TITLE TEXT EFFECT close

Crafting fun title treatments is one of those tasks for which Photoshop seems intentionally built. Who doesn’t love a bright, shiny metallic title? Accomplishing this effectively is an exploration in layer styles and other filters, but it goes way beyond just basic Bevel & Emboss. The key is understanding the limitations of the styles and working to apply them within those constraints. Sometimes that means creating multiple layers for a single line of text; sometimes it means folding smart objects inside other smart objects. In any case, it’s a fun journey with great results! (This effe...

Learn how to create and capture dynamic visual effects at home! Join Kirk Nelson for a truly fun and practical class on shooting and composting special effects that you create in your own home or backyard. With lessons on water splashes, smoke, steam, and fireballs, made from props, materials, and equipment you may already have or can acquire at a local store, you’ll be ready to get started right away. After walking through how to create and capture the effects, Kirk takes you through his post processing workflow and demonstrates how to composite these effects into photographs.

Shooting and Compositing Your Own Special Effects close

Learn how to create and capture dynamic visual effects at home! Join Kirk Nelson for a truly fun and practical class on shooting and composting special effects that you create in your own home or backyard. With lessons on water splashes, smoke, steam, and fireballs, made from props, materials, and equipment you may already have or can acquire at a local store, you’ll be ready to get started right away. After walking through how to create and capture the effects, Kirk takes you through his post processing workflow and demonstrates how to composite these effects into photographs.

Crafting interesting text effects is always a fun way to use Photoshop’s bevy of tools. In this tutorial we explore a way to create a text effect inspired by the Netflix series Blown Away. The idea is to craft a text effect that appears to be blown glass that’s still hot and glowing. This project includes several creative techniques to get to the final product, including a means of crafting 3D text without the benefit of actual 3D tools, since Adobe no longer supports them in Photoshop’s toolset and they plan to discontinue them altogether in the near future. All that means is that the ...

CREATE A BLOWN-GLASS TEXT EFFECT close

Crafting interesting text effects is always a fun way to use Photoshop’s bevy of tools. In this tutorial we explore a way to create a text effect inspired by the Netflix series Blown Away. The idea is to craft a text effect that appears to be blown glass that’s still hot and glowing. This project includes several creative techniques to get to the final product, including a means of crafting 3D text without the benefit of actual 3D tools, since Adobe no longer supports them in Photoshop’s toolset and they plan to discontinue them altogether in the near future. All that means is that the ...

For much of the world, the transition to wintertime comes on surprisingly fast. One day the weather is comfortable enough for short sleeves, then suddenly the next day you find yourself searching for mittens and heavy coats! The season comes on gleefully unopposed, almost as if Lady Winter herself danced across the landscape spreading ice and snow everywhere in her wake.  That’s the scene we’re attempting to capture in this project. Starting with an image of a woman in a long flowing dress on a warm beach with the folds of her dress converting the scene into a wintery wonderland. This pr...

Create Your Own Surreal Winter Lady Scene close

For much of the world, the transition to wintertime comes on surprisingly fast. One day the weather is comfortable enough for short sleeves, then suddenly the next day you find yourself searching for mittens and heavy coats! The season comes on gleefully unopposed, almost as if Lady Winter herself danced across the landscape spreading ice and snow everywhere in her wake.  That’s the scene we’re attempting to capture in this project. Starting with an image of a woman in a long flowing dress on a warm beach with the folds of her dress converting the scene into a wintery wonderland. This pr...

Learn how to take a so-so photo to a stunner using Photoshop’s neural filters! Join Kirk Nelson as he takes you step-by-step through a project using one of his photos that leverages the power of multiple neural filters and other Photoshop tools to transform it into a masterpiece. In this class you’ll learn all about what neural filters are, where they are found, how to apply them to your photos, and then how to take them to a whole new level using smart objects, depth maps, and other Photoshop tools.

Enhancing Your Backgrounds Using Photoshop’s New Neural Filters close

Learn how to take a so-so photo to a stunner using Photoshop’s neural filters! Join Kirk Nelson as he takes you step-by-step through a project using one of his photos that leverages the power of multiple neural filters and other Photoshop tools to transform it into a masterpiece. In this class you’ll learn all about what neural filters are, where they are found, how to apply them to your photos, and then how to take them to a whole new level using smart objects, depth maps, and other Photoshop tools.

Photoshop’s new Neural Filters now include a fascinating filter called Style Transfer. This filter uses an image from a famous artist as “inspiration” to apply a similar style to your image. The idea behind the technology is really quite amazing and it can be used to create some interesting effects quickly. It’s important to govern some expectations here. This feature isn’t attempting to create replicas or reproductions of the paintings by famous artists in history. It doesn’t even come close to that! Rather, it tries to simulate some of the color usage and brushstrokes that it detects i...

Use Neural Filters to Create Your Own Starry Night-Inspired Digital Artwork close

Photoshop’s new Neural Filters now include a fascinating filter called Style Transfer. This filter uses an image from a famous artist as “inspiration” to apply a similar style to your image. The idea behind the technology is really quite amazing and it can be used to create some interesting effects quickly. It’s important to govern some expectations here. This feature isn’t attempting to create replicas or reproductions of the paintings by famous artists in history. It doesn’t even come close to that! Rather, it tries to simulate some of the color usage and brushstrokes that it detects i...

In the latest release of Photoshop this past fall, Adobe included some exciting new Neural Filters. These Neural Filters are different from regular filters in that they use machine learning to take user feedback and make themselves better and better over time. One of the most impressive new filters is the Landscape Mixer, which allows you to change the season of a landscape with a simple slider bar! So now you can use those pics from your favorite summer vacation spot to create wintry wonderlands for your backgrounds. In this project, we’ll take a window setting of a rather boring city skyl...

Landscape Swapping with the New Neural Filters close

In the latest release of Photoshop this past fall, Adobe included some exciting new Neural Filters. These Neural Filters are different from regular filters in that they use machine learning to take user feedback and make themselves better and better over time. One of the most impressive new filters is the Landscape Mixer, which allows you to change the season of a landscape with a simple slider bar! So now you can use those pics from your favorite summer vacation spot to create wintry wonderlands for your backgrounds. In this project, we’ll take a window setting of a rather boring city skyl...

 Have you seen the NBC TV series La Brea yet? Judging by the ratings…probably not. Regardless, the premise and ad spots are visually compelling. The idea of a giant sinkhole in downtown LA leading to some mysterious portal is a fun concept to say the least. Although it bears a striking resemblance to another “stranded-in-a-mysterious-jungle-environment-that-offers-more-questions-than-answers” series, it’s fascinating enough to try to create our own version of the urban sinkhole effect.  In addition to the inspirational material, there’s also the newly released Free section of Adobe Stock...

Create a La Brea-Inspired Urban Sinkhole Effect close

 Have you seen the NBC TV series La Brea yet? Judging by the ratings…probably not. Regardless, the premise and ad spots are visually compelling. The idea of a giant sinkhole in downtown LA leading to some mysterious portal is a fun concept to say the least. Although it bears a striking resemblance to another “stranded-in-a-mysterious-jungle-environment-that-offers-more-questions-than-answers” series, it’s fascinating enough to try to create our own version of the urban sinkhole effect.  In addition to the inspirational material, there’s also the newly released Free section of Adobe Stock...

Have you seen the Dune trailer? Have you? For any fan of the seminal 1965 property, those brief flashing images of a distant sand-covered planet inhabited by “actual” dew-gathering Fremen created glimpses of hope that the movie might finally be a good interpretation of the sci-fi classic. One of the most compelling visuals in the trailer is the appearance of the personal shields used by a pair of knife fighters. In the novel, these shields are a type of energy force field that hugs the shape of the body and protects the individual. We decided to see how we might mimic that effect in Photosh...

Craft a Dune-Inspired Fighter-Shield Effect close

Have you seen the Dune trailer? Have you? For any fan of the seminal 1965 property, those brief flashing images of a distant sand-covered planet inhabited by “actual” dew-gathering Fremen created glimpses of hope that the movie might finally be a good interpretation of the sci-fi classic. One of the most compelling visuals in the trailer is the appearance of the personal shields used by a pair of knife fighters. In the novel, these shields are a type of energy force field that hugs the shape of the body and protects the individual. We decided to see how we might mimic that effect in Photosh...

Ever get lost in a good book? Ever get so lost that it feels like you’re immersed in a totally different environment that barely even resembles our own world? There is perhaps no more escapist form of entertainment than a novel you just can’t put down. In this project, we attempt to visualize that surreal, almost dreamlike, experience of losing yourself in a vivid sci-fi dreamscape.  This project does make use of stock files from Adobe. If you don’t wish to purchase the full-sized versions, using the smaller, watermarked versions will serve just fine to learn the techniques.  STEP ONE...

Escape to a Surreal Sci-Fi Storybook Dreamscape close

Ever get lost in a good book? Ever get so lost that it feels like you’re immersed in a totally different environment that barely even resembles our own world? There is perhaps no more escapist form of entertainment than a novel you just can’t put down. In this project, we attempt to visualize that surreal, almost dreamlike, experience of losing yourself in a vivid sci-fi dreamscape.  This project does make use of stock files from Adobe. If you don’t wish to purchase the full-sized versions, using the smaller, watermarked versions will serve just fine to learn the techniques.  STEP ONE...

Marvel’s decision to expand the cinematic universe into properties that have weekly streaming episodes has shown itself to be a brilliant move! The highly acclaimed Loki series following the trickster god after the end of Avengers: Endgame just recently wrapped up on Disney+. The title treatment was a fun mixture of various styles and effects, and that treatment is our topic for this month!  While the base letter shapes are constructed using 3D in Photoshop, don’t think this is another project filled with endless hours waiting for a render just to tweak another setting and then waiting s...

Title Treatment Inspired By Marvel’s Loki close

Marvel’s decision to expand the cinematic universe into properties that have weekly streaming episodes has shown itself to be a brilliant move! The highly acclaimed Loki series following the trickster god after the end of Avengers: Endgame just recently wrapped up on Disney+. The title treatment was a fun mixture of various styles and effects, and that treatment is our topic for this month!  While the base letter shapes are constructed using 3D in Photoshop, don’t think this is another project filled with endless hours waiting for a render just to tweak another setting and then waiting s...

One of the great childhood joys of summertime is finding fireflies, or lightning bugs as they may be known regionally. In an honest effort to recapture some of that same summertime bliss, photographers have created wonderfully beautiful images by using long exposure settings to capture the flights of the little electric insects. Of course, if your area doesn’t have these critters, or perhaps if it’s just the wrong time of year, what recourse do you have? Well, Photoshop of course!  In this project, we’ll explore some techniques to re-create those glowing images with a bit of brushwork an...

Craft a Long Exposure Firefly Effect in Photoshop close

One of the great childhood joys of summertime is finding fireflies, or lightning bugs as they may be known regionally. In an honest effort to recapture some of that same summertime bliss, photographers have created wonderfully beautiful images by using long exposure settings to capture the flights of the little electric insects. Of course, if your area doesn’t have these critters, or perhaps if it’s just the wrong time of year, what recourse do you have? Well, Photoshop of course!  In this project, we’ll explore some techniques to re-create those glowing images with a bit of brushwork an...

Recently, we’ve seen a creative design variation of the classic time-lapse photo sequence; however, instead of crafting a video from the individual shots, the shots are sliced up into narrow columns and then composited together to create a single design that spans the entire length of time. For example, getting shots of the same landscape from sunrise to late night and then compositing them together in a way that visually portrays the passage of time. Of course, this requires a time investment to get all the images needed to cover an entire day. Or, we can use some clever editing work in Ph...

Craft Your Own Slices of Time Photo Composite close

Recently, we’ve seen a creative design variation of the classic time-lapse photo sequence; however, instead of crafting a video from the individual shots, the shots are sliced up into narrow columns and then composited together to create a single design that spans the entire length of time. For example, getting shots of the same landscape from sunrise to late night and then compositing them together in a way that visually portrays the passage of time. Of course, this requires a time investment to get all the images needed to cover an entire day. Or, we can use some clever editing work in Ph...

One of the most intriguing properties to come out of Marvel Studios is the short Disney+ series WandaVision. Not only is it deliciously weird, oddly mysterious, and abounding with fun fan theories, but it also has some great effects that we don’t often get to see in small-screen productions. The marketing materials feature one of those effects where the border to the “Hex” is seen and the characters are half in and half out. With a bit of Photoshop magic, we can create a similar effect ourselves, all without having super powers infused by an Infinity Stone!  We’ve provided the base portr...

Create Your Own WandaVision-Inspired Magical Transition Effect close

One of the most intriguing properties to come out of Marvel Studios is the short Disney+ series WandaVision. Not only is it deliciously weird, oddly mysterious, and abounding with fun fan theories, but it also has some great effects that we don’t often get to see in small-screen productions. The marketing materials feature one of those effects where the border to the “Hex” is seen and the characters are half in and half out. With a bit of Photoshop magic, we can create a similar effect ourselves, all without having super powers infused by an Infinity Stone!  We’ve provided the base portr...

As Star Trek: Discovery finished up their third season, we were still transfixed by the unique design of the title sequence. The blend of tech sketches and watercolor brushes work surprisingly well together. In this project, we boldly explore a technique inspired by that very effect. It’s accomplished by some clever uses of filters, blending modes, and stock images but proves to be a versatile technique that can be applied to your own work. One of the essential elements of the technique is a set of watercolor brushes freely available on Adobe’s website.  Step One: In Photoshop, go to Fil...

Create a Sci-Fi Watercolor Effect close

As Star Trek: Discovery finished up their third season, we were still transfixed by the unique design of the title sequence. The blend of tech sketches and watercolor brushes work surprisingly well together. In this project, we boldly explore a technique inspired by that very effect. It’s accomplished by some clever uses of filters, blending modes, and stock images but proves to be a versatile technique that can be applied to your own work. One of the essential elements of the technique is a set of watercolor brushes freely available on Adobe’s website.  Step One: In Photoshop, go to Fil...

Just how much does that afternoon cup of coffee at your desk mean to you? Those still moments enjoying a mug of hot caffeine as your mind wanders before you set yourself back into your routine. Perhaps dreaming of that upcoming vacation, or even just the weekend outdoors instead of in the office. Cherished moments, to be sure.  In this project we seek to capture some of that magic by turning a regular cup of joe into a magical daydream. The inspiration coming from how the steam from the cup can be reminiscent of fog as it winds through a lush forest. With a bit of compositing know-how, w...

Create a “Cup-o-Daydreams” close

Just how much does that afternoon cup of coffee at your desk mean to you? Those still moments enjoying a mug of hot caffeine as your mind wanders before you set yourself back into your routine. Perhaps dreaming of that upcoming vacation, or even just the weekend outdoors instead of in the office. Cherished moments, to be sure.  In this project we seek to capture some of that magic by turning a regular cup of joe into a magical daydream. The inspiration coming from how the steam from the cup can be reminiscent of fog as it winds through a lush forest. With a bit of compositing know-how, w...

We’ve all seen those photos that show a wonderfully intimate moment made even more magical by the impossibly smooth, creamy background. It’s entirely possible that these types of images can be created right out of the camera by wonderfully talented photographers with ungodly expensive lenses. It’s also possible that it can be done by one of us mere mortals with a few clever techniques in Photoshop. In this project we’ll show you how to accomplish that.  This technique works best when the subject has a significant backlighting that creates a natural rim lighting effect to indicate the lig...

Add a Magical Creamy Background to Your Photos close

We’ve all seen those photos that show a wonderfully intimate moment made even more magical by the impossibly smooth, creamy background. It’s entirely possible that these types of images can be created right out of the camera by wonderfully talented photographers with ungodly expensive lenses. It’s also possible that it can be done by one of us mere mortals with a few clever techniques in Photoshop. In this project we’ll show you how to accomplish that.  This technique works best when the subject has a significant backlighting that creates a natural rim lighting effect to indicate the lig...

One of the greatest forms of inspiration an artist can find is watching the work of other artists, especially artists of different media and industries. The special-effects industry is particularly fascinating and offers a plethora of ingenious ideas for fun effects. For example, most of the snow seen in major movies isn’t really snow. One substitute that’s commonly used is instant potato flakes! Hence the idea to create a windblown snow scene, borrowing from the idea of things looking like something they’re not.  In this project, we had a model simply blow a handful of potato flakes int...

Create a Windblown Snow Scene without Getting Cold! close

One of the greatest forms of inspiration an artist can find is watching the work of other artists, especially artists of different media and industries. The special-effects industry is particularly fascinating and offers a plethora of ingenious ideas for fun effects. For example, most of the snow seen in major movies isn’t really snow. One substitute that’s commonly used is instant potato flakes! Hence the idea to create a windblown snow scene, borrowing from the idea of things looking like something they’re not.  In this project, we had a model simply blow a handful of potato flakes int...

Creating the impression of movement, particularly fast movement, within a still image is a concept that artists have explored for generations. Still images don’t move, so how do you make them look like they’re speeding by? Generally, this is done by use of various types of blurring, either of the subject or of the background. The advertising treatment for the TV show The Flash does an excellent job of making the titular character appear to be moving faster than, well, everything! In this project, we explore how you can replicate some of those effects yourself within Photoshop.  This proj...

Craft Your Own Flash Speed Effect close

Creating the impression of movement, particularly fast movement, within a still image is a concept that artists have explored for generations. Still images don’t move, so how do you make them look like they’re speeding by? Generally, this is done by use of various types of blurring, either of the subject or of the background. The advertising treatment for the TV show The Flash does an excellent job of making the titular character appear to be moving faster than, well, everything! In this project, we explore how you can replicate some of those effects yourself within Photoshop.  This proj...

Possibly the greatest capability of Photoshop is crafting images of the impossible. To create something as beautiful as it is surreal can almost be considered its own art form. The official Instagram feed for Photoshop routinely explores this concept. This project was inspired by a piece of artwork shared there; the original artwork was done by artist Jordan Singh and you can follow Jordan @jordansingh838.  Step One: Create a new document (File>New) with a Width and Height of 1080x1080 pixels. Name the document “Ribbon Road” and click Create. Then go to View>New Guide Layout, turn ...

Create a Surreal Hot Air Balloon Landscape close

Possibly the greatest capability of Photoshop is crafting images of the impossible. To create something as beautiful as it is surreal can almost be considered its own art form. The official Instagram feed for Photoshop routinely explores this concept. This project was inspired by a piece of artwork shared there; the original artwork was done by artist Jordan Singh and you can follow Jordan @jordansingh838.  Step One: Create a new document (File>New) with a Width and Height of 1080x1080 pixels. Name the document “Ribbon Road” and click Create. Then go to View>New Guide Layout, turn ...

The musical Hamilton has seen extended viewership since busting out of Broadway and onto a streaming platform. Now that it’s accessible to folks who previously would never be able to see it on Broadway, the attention for the musical is nonstop. At the end of the piece, during the credits, the characters are listed over watercolor-like portraits of the actors. If you think we’d let such inspirational material go by without trying to simulate the effect in Photoshop, well, let’s just say we’re “not throwing away our shot!”  Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new file (File>New). Name...

Create a Hamilton-Inspired Watercolor Portrait close

The musical Hamilton has seen extended viewership since busting out of Broadway and onto a streaming platform. Now that it’s accessible to folks who previously would never be able to see it on Broadway, the attention for the musical is nonstop. At the end of the piece, during the credits, the characters are listed over watercolor-like portraits of the actors. If you think we’d let such inspirational material go by without trying to simulate the effect in Photoshop, well, let’s just say we’re “not throwing away our shot!”  Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new file (File>New). Name...

Every pet owner knows that our special furry friends have a look that can melt our resolve at a glance: big brown eyes, folded ears, and tilted head. Before we know it we’re handing over our dinner to the friend at our feet. But how to let others see our pets as we see them? One way is to craft a pet caricature that exaggerates the cutest parts, and creates that look we adore.  This project uses two stock images from Adobe Stock. If you don’t wish to purchase these, it’s fine to use the lower-resolution, watermarked versions to learn the techniques, and then apply the techniques to your ...

Create Your Own Pet Caricature close

Every pet owner knows that our special furry friends have a look that can melt our resolve at a glance: big brown eyes, folded ears, and tilted head. Before we know it we’re handing over our dinner to the friend at our feet. But how to let others see our pets as we see them? One way is to craft a pet caricature that exaggerates the cutest parts, and creates that look we adore.  This project uses two stock images from Adobe Stock. If you don’t wish to purchase these, it’s fine to use the lower-resolution, watermarked versions to learn the techniques, and then apply the techniques to your ...

If you’ve opened your copy of Creative Cloud recently, you’re probably familiar with the illustrated piece of a nurse with the title of HONOR HEROES below her. It’s a compelling illustration style and one that inspired the project in this tutorial. The artist who accomplished the original work is clearly very talented, and there’s no way to reproduce that effect without a bit of artistic skill. Still, there are some tricks in Photoshop that can assist with some of the foundational illustration components, and make it a lot easier to create them. This project makes extensive use of the Pen t...

Create Artwork Inspired By Adobe’s Honor Heroes close

If you’ve opened your copy of Creative Cloud recently, you’re probably familiar with the illustrated piece of a nurse with the title of HONOR HEROES below her. It’s a compelling illustration style and one that inspired the project in this tutorial. The artist who accomplished the original work is clearly very talented, and there’s no way to reproduce that effect without a bit of artistic skill. Still, there are some tricks in Photoshop that can assist with some of the foundational illustration components, and make it a lot easier to create them. This project makes extensive use of the Pen t...

Did Netflix know that we’d all be quarantined for weeks on end? They seem to be well positioned with their streaming entertainment and original content to help us all cope with the endless hours on the couch. To that end, let’s craft a show ad inspired by one of the most critically acclaimed original shows on the platform, Dolemite is My Name. In this project, we’ll use a clever method of turning a black suit white, and even add in some 3D text to complete the design.  Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new document (File>New), set the Width to 1,500 pixels, the Height to 2,222 pix...

Craft a Dolemite-Inspired Movie Ad close

Did Netflix know that we’d all be quarantined for weeks on end? They seem to be well positioned with their streaming entertainment and original content to help us all cope with the endless hours on the couch. To that end, let’s craft a show ad inspired by one of the most critically acclaimed original shows on the platform, Dolemite is My Name. In this project, we’ll use a clever method of turning a black suit white, and even add in some 3D text to complete the design.  Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new document (File>New), set the Width to 1,500 pixels, the Height to 2,222 pix...

Happy quarantine, everybody. We hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Chances are good that most people are spending a lot more time watching their favorite streaming services, and enjoying some of the original content being offered. Netflix has found some success with Altered Carbon and has released a second season of the sci-fi mystery adventure series. Part of the promotion for the show is a poster with the main character depicted as a stone statue crumbling apart. That’s the inspiration for this project as we explore methods to re-create the effect in Photoshop.  Step One: In...

Create an Altered Carbon-Inspired Effect close

Happy quarantine, everybody. We hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Chances are good that most people are spending a lot more time watching their favorite streaming services, and enjoying some of the original content being offered. Netflix has found some success with Altered Carbon and has released a second season of the sci-fi mystery adventure series. Part of the promotion for the show is a poster with the main character depicted as a stone statue crumbling apart. That’s the inspiration for this project as we explore methods to re-create the effect in Photoshop.  Step One: In...

Crafting surreal images is one of the great joys of using Photoshop. As Walt Disney is often credited as saying, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” To that end, this project explores a method of creating an impossible spiral-shaped lighthouse. This project does lean on some skills and techniques borrowed from traditional illustration methods, so be prepared to work with paths, the Pen tool, and reference lines. It may look intimidating if you aren’t experienced with these tools, but the effort is worth it.  Step One: Open the lighthouse stock image. If you’d like to download the lo...

Create Your Own Surreal Spiral Lighthouse close

Crafting surreal images is one of the great joys of using Photoshop. As Walt Disney is often credited as saying, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” To that end, this project explores a method of creating an impossible spiral-shaped lighthouse. This project does lean on some skills and techniques borrowed from traditional illustration methods, so be prepared to work with paths, the Pen tool, and reference lines. It may look intimidating if you aren’t experienced with these tools, but the effort is worth it.  Step One: Open the lighthouse stock image. If you’d like to download the lo...

The Black Widow movie is the long-awaited MCU movie with a female lead. Essentially, it’s Marvel’s answer to DC’s Wonder Woman. With Natasha Romanoff finally leading her own film, the studios also released a spectacular poster promoting it. It’s a throwback to some classic movie poster design that looks like it’s more painting than photo. Using that as inspiration, we decided to dig into Photoshop and see how we might be able to come up with a similar effect, without having to actually paint the poster, that is! The result is a clever combination of filters and blending modes to create an e...

Create Your Own Black Widow-Inspired Poster close

The Black Widow movie is the long-awaited MCU movie with a female lead. Essentially, it’s Marvel’s answer to DC’s Wonder Woman. With Natasha Romanoff finally leading her own film, the studios also released a spectacular poster promoting it. It’s a throwback to some classic movie poster design that looks like it’s more painting than photo. Using that as inspiration, we decided to dig into Photoshop and see how we might be able to come up with a similar effect, without having to actually paint the poster, that is! The result is a clever combination of filters and blending modes to create an e...

The Star Wars universe has long served as inspiration ground for artists of all kinds. Now that the property is more than 40 years old, we can see how the material has changed and adapted to a modern generation. What hasn’t changed is that it still inspires young and old. One of the latest properties is The Mandalorian streaming series. It’s undeniably Star Wars, but has a grittiness to it that feels more like a western than a sci-fi space drama. In this project, we delve into creating a Mandalorian-inspired character poster. Note: This project uses a few stock files from Adobe Stock. If...

Create Mandalorian-Inspired Character Art close

The Star Wars universe has long served as inspiration ground for artists of all kinds. Now that the property is more than 40 years old, we can see how the material has changed and adapted to a modern generation. What hasn’t changed is that it still inspires young and old. One of the latest properties is The Mandalorian streaming series. It’s undeniably Star Wars, but has a grittiness to it that feels more like a western than a sci-fi space drama. In this project, we delve into creating a Mandalorian-inspired character poster. Note: This project uses a few stock files from Adobe Stock. If...

The recent movie Joker is a fascinating exploration into the character of one of the most intriguing villains in comic book history. Whether the film did the iconic character justice is up for discussion, but there’s no denying that some of the promotional artwork was downright brilliant. This project draws inspiration from one of the movie posters that shows a Joker card with the double faces. The idea that the Joker’s smile is the frown of the man, Arthur Fleck, is an excellent bit of visual ingenuity. This project will pull out several of Photoshop’s more advanced tools in order to make ...

Craft a Creepy Joker-Inspired Playing Card close

The recent movie Joker is a fascinating exploration into the character of one of the most intriguing villains in comic book history. Whether the film did the iconic character justice is up for discussion, but there’s no denying that some of the promotional artwork was downright brilliant. This project draws inspiration from one of the movie posters that shows a Joker card with the double faces. The idea that the Joker’s smile is the frown of the man, Arthur Fleck, is an excellent bit of visual ingenuity. This project will pull out several of Photoshop’s more advanced tools in order to make ...

Do you remember the movie, The Dark Crystal? For many of us, this movie was a part of our childhood experience, as it was filled with wonder, magic, and strangely…Muppets. Netflix has revived that nostalgic property with a series of its own. The show looks to recapture that same eerie sense of magic with a colorful world filled with strange creatures and settings. In this project, we draw inspiration from the title card for the series to craft a text effect of our own using nothing more than the magic of Photoshop’s layers and layer styles. Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new docum...

Create a Text Treatment Inspired by the Dark Crystal close

Do you remember the movie, The Dark Crystal? For many of us, this movie was a part of our childhood experience, as it was filled with wonder, magic, and strangely…Muppets. Netflix has revived that nostalgic property with a series of its own. The show looks to recapture that same eerie sense of magic with a colorful world filled with strange creatures and settings. In this project, we draw inspiration from the title card for the series to craft a text effect of our own using nothing more than the magic of Photoshop’s layers and layer styles. Step One: Open Photoshop and create a new docum...

Sudsy Soap Bubble Fun

with Kirk Nelson

The idea of using soap bubbles in portrait sessions always seems like such a great idea. Those colorful soap bubbles catching the light and sparkling around your subject—the mental image of it is almost too good not to try. Then reality sets in and doesn’t care about your vision. The bubbles are wildly uncontrollable and are never the right size or shape or in the right place. What can you do? Why, create them in Photoshop, of course! In this tutorial, we delve into some obscure Photoshop features and filters to create realistic soap bubbles that include colorful reflections. Step One: T...

Sudsy Soap Bubble Fun close

The idea of using soap bubbles in portrait sessions always seems like such a great idea. Those colorful soap bubbles catching the light and sparkling around your subject—the mental image of it is almost too good not to try. Then reality sets in and doesn’t care about your vision. The bubbles are wildly uncontrollable and are never the right size or shape or in the right place. What can you do? Why, create them in Photoshop, of course! In this tutorial, we delve into some obscure Photoshop features and filters to create realistic soap bubbles that include colorful reflections. Step One: T...

The promotional materials for Wonder Woman 1984 are even more eye-catching than the usual superhero fare. The poster features a kaleidoscopic explosion of bright and vivid colors. Our task this issue is to create a similar effect using Photoshop. Crafting the trippy background is a fun process that uses some underutilized filters and clever applications of Gradient Map adjustment layers. There are a lot of seemingly trivial details with the Gradient Editor to wade through, but that’s just to demonstrate the technique to get the exact effect shown here. The technique is widely versatile and ...

Craft a Wondrous Kaleidoscope Effect close

The promotional materials for Wonder Woman 1984 are even more eye-catching than the usual superhero fare. The poster features a kaleidoscopic explosion of bright and vivid colors. Our task this issue is to create a similar effect using Photoshop. Crafting the trippy background is a fun process that uses some underutilized filters and clever applications of Gradient Map adjustment layers. There are a lot of seemingly trivial details with the Gradient Editor to wade through, but that’s just to demonstrate the technique to get the exact effect shown here. The technique is widely versatile and ...

Do you know why drawing a human face realistically is so difficult? In reality it’s no more challenging than any other complex object, but we’re so accustomed to viewing human faces that minor mistakes in the drawing are more easily noticed. It’s our familiarity with the subject matter that makes artistic reproductions so difficult. In this project, we key in to that same sense, but purposely lean against it. By fragmenting a portrait into separate panels and making minor misalignments, it creates that sense of unease upon viewing. Anytime you can use art to create an emotion in your audien...

Create Your Own Shattered Portrait close

Do you know why drawing a human face realistically is so difficult? In reality it’s no more challenging than any other complex object, but we’re so accustomed to viewing human faces that minor mistakes in the drawing are more easily noticed. It’s our familiarity with the subject matter that makes artistic reproductions so difficult. In this project, we key in to that same sense, but purposely lean against it. By fragmenting a portrait into separate panels and making minor misalignments, it creates that sense of unease upon viewing. Anytime you can use art to create an emotion in your audien...

The HBO series Veep, with Julia-Louis-Dreyfus, is an intriguing satire that looks at politics and the office of the vice president; but even more interesting than the show’s premise is the poster art! The poster shows the titular character’s portrait on a postage stamp, including rubber-stamped postmarks and all. In this project, we’ll explore some ways to mimic that effect in Photoshop. Most notable is the ability to generate half-tone patterns within the program. There are two methods explored here, each with slightly different results. Step One: In Photoshop, create a new document (Fi...

Craft Your Own Postage Stamp Portrait Effect close

The HBO series Veep, with Julia-Louis-Dreyfus, is an intriguing satire that looks at politics and the office of the vice president; but even more interesting than the show’s premise is the poster art! The poster shows the titular character’s portrait on a postage stamp, including rubber-stamped postmarks and all. In this project, we’ll explore some ways to mimic that effect in Photoshop. Most notable is the ability to generate half-tone patterns within the program. There are two methods explored here, each with slightly different results. Step One: In Photoshop, create a new document (Fi...

Currently, one of the most notable heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Captain Marvel. Not only is she a great character, but her movie is also enjoying huge amounts of success. Part of what makes her so fun to watch is her flashy power set. Those glowing photon blasts are awesome! Even the movie poster is glowing with that same energy effect. In this project we’ll explore how to achieve a similar effect in Photoshop, both by manipulating stock images and by homegrown effects in Photoshop. Step One: Open the image you’d like to use in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-r...

Create Your Own Captain Marvel Photon Energy Effect close

Currently, one of the most notable heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Captain Marvel. Not only is she a great character, but her movie is also enjoying huge amounts of success. Part of what makes her so fun to watch is her flashy power set. Those glowing photon blasts are awesome! Even the movie poster is glowing with that same energy effect. In this project we’ll explore how to achieve a similar effect in Photoshop, both by manipulating stock images and by homegrown effects in Photoshop. Step One: Open the image you’d like to use in Photoshop. If you’d like to download the low-r...

Hand-lettered designs are beautiful sources of inspiration. Something about the imperfections of the hand-drawn lines is very appealing in a world filled with perfect, machine-generated artwork. Design studios such as Tanamachi Studio offer gorgeous hand-lettered designs by talented artists. Using this for inspiration, this tutorial explores some methods of crafting a similar effect in Photoshop. The final effect feels very organic and inspiring, achieved by some clever uses of custom brushes and vector paths in Photoshop. Don’t let the idea of using brushes and paths scare you off; this pr...

Create an Inspirational Hand-Lettered Design close

Hand-lettered designs are beautiful sources of inspiration. Something about the imperfections of the hand-drawn lines is very appealing in a world filled with perfect, machine-generated artwork. Design studios such as Tanamachi Studio offer gorgeous hand-lettered designs by talented artists. Using this for inspiration, this tutorial explores some methods of crafting a similar effect in Photoshop. The final effect feels very organic and inspiring, achieved by some clever uses of custom brushes and vector paths in Photoshop. Don’t let the idea of using brushes and paths scare you off; this pr...

What’s behind the face you show to the world? We all present a certain veneer that we deem as appropriate to display to those around us. A mask. A facade. But did you ever wonder what’s just behind the polished image that others allow you to see? This project explores that very idea by using missing puzzle pieces to reveal the emotions hidden behind a face that’s presented to the rest of the world. Step One: This tutorial is showing the full-resolution versions of stock images from Adobe Stock. You can download the watermarked versions to follow along. Click this link for the first image...

Create a Puzzle Reveal Portrait close

What’s behind the face you show to the world? We all present a certain veneer that we deem as appropriate to display to those around us. A mask. A facade. But did you ever wonder what’s just behind the polished image that others allow you to see? This project explores that very idea by using missing puzzle pieces to reveal the emotions hidden behind a face that’s presented to the rest of the world. Step One: This tutorial is showing the full-resolution versions of stock images from Adobe Stock. You can download the watermarked versions to follow along. Click this link for the first image...

In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of the theory that the world isn’t actually round, despite evidence to the contrary. But whether you think the Earth is flat or spherical, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who truly believes the world has terrain that forms a 90° fold. This would be particularly impossible for a body of water. That’s what makes this project so interesting. This type of landscape can’t appear naturally, so it’s mind-bendingly surreal. Step One: Create a new file (File>New) at 2200x1200 pixels. To use the Adobe Stock image we’re using here, click this...

Create a Surreal Folded Landscape close

In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of the theory that the world isn’t actually round, despite evidence to the contrary. But whether you think the Earth is flat or spherical, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who truly believes the world has terrain that forms a 90° fold. This would be particularly impossible for a body of water. That’s what makes this project so interesting. This type of landscape can’t appear naturally, so it’s mind-bendingly surreal. Step One: Create a new file (File>New) at 2200x1200 pixels. To use the Adobe Stock image we’re using here, click this...

Advertising is well known for using “better-than-real” images for their hero shots. These are images specially designed to make the product look more appealing than reality. Learning the process for crafting these images will not only make your images look better, but also open up new opportunities for crafting hero shots for potential clients. In this project, we take a bland glass bottle image and transform it into an ad for a fictional soft drink. The concept is to create an image that makes the drink look cool, crisp, and refreshing. Along the way we’ll explore some techniques for ma...

Create Your Own Cola Bottle Hero Image close

Advertising is well known for using “better-than-real” images for their hero shots. These are images specially designed to make the product look more appealing than reality. Learning the process for crafting these images will not only make your images look better, but also open up new opportunities for crafting hero shots for potential clients. In this project, we take a bland glass bottle image and transform it into an ad for a fictional soft drink. The concept is to create an image that makes the drink look cool, crisp, and refreshing. Along the way we’ll explore some techniques for ma...

Our devices are such a ubiquitous part of us that sometimes we wonder if we can really tell the difference between our actual lives and our digital lives. It’s understandable that we’d want to capture or record every moment that we cherish to share with friends and family, or even to remember that moment. Our real and digital lives blend together so frequently that it’s often difficult to separate the two. This project explores the idea of the images we capture with our devices as being more “real” to us than the actual physical world that surrounds us. It’s a concept that’s increasingly mo...

Create an Into-the-Phone Photo close

Our devices are such a ubiquitous part of us that sometimes we wonder if we can really tell the difference between our actual lives and our digital lives. It’s understandable that we’d want to capture or record every moment that we cherish to share with friends and family, or even to remember that moment. Our real and digital lives blend together so frequently that it’s often difficult to separate the two. This project explores the idea of the images we capture with our devices as being more “real” to us than the actual physical world that surrounds us. It’s a concept that’s increasingly mo...

Ever wonder what it would look like if a mural came to life and broke out of the wall on which it was painted? The very concept is intriguing, as it invites the imagination to wrestle with the idea of another realm beyond those cold hard walls. This piece explores that idea, as well as some fantastic uses of blending modes and layer masks. It’s surprising just how powerful those two Photoshop features are when paired together; they make composting isolated elements simple and fun. In many ways, this project of a character breaking free of her concrete barriers is a metaphor for breaking ...

Create a Breakout Effect in Photoshop close

Ever wonder what it would look like if a mural came to life and broke out of the wall on which it was painted? The very concept is intriguing, as it invites the imagination to wrestle with the idea of another realm beyond those cold hard walls. This piece explores that idea, as well as some fantastic uses of blending modes and layer masks. It’s surprising just how powerful those two Photoshop features are when paired together; they make composting isolated elements simple and fun. In many ways, this project of a character breaking free of her concrete barriers is a metaphor for breaking ...

X-rays are one of those miracles of modern technology that still fascinate us. The idea that there’s a macabre skeleton hiding inside each of us that we’ll probably never see is a curiously provocative idea. Of course, there’s no Photoshop process that actually lets you see the skeleton of a person in an image; but, by using some clever filters and a bit of compositing know-how, you can make it seem that way! Step One: The primary image for this project comes from Adobe Stock. The original image includes quite a bit of empty space at the top. You can download a comp of this photo at Adob...

Craft a Dynamic X-Ray Effect close

X-rays are one of those miracles of modern technology that still fascinate us. The idea that there’s a macabre skeleton hiding inside each of us that we’ll probably never see is a curiously provocative idea. Of course, there’s no Photoshop process that actually lets you see the skeleton of a person in an image; but, by using some clever filters and a bit of compositing know-how, you can make it seem that way! Step One: The primary image for this project comes from Adobe Stock. The original image includes quite a bit of empty space at the top. You can download a comp of this photo at Adob...

Crafting good selections is a fundamental skill for any Photoshop user. The program has a wide assortment of tools and features to create selections to fit any circumstance or occasion. One of the more challenging situations is when the intended subject doesn’t have a hard edge or easily discernible border; for example, colored clouds during a sunset. Luminosity masks is a method of using the image to craft selections from itself, which allows unparalleled control over tonal ranges in the image without ever having to touch a selection tool! Step One: This technique isn’t specific to the ...

Complete Tonal Control Using Luminosity Masks close

Crafting good selections is a fundamental skill for any Photoshop user. The program has a wide assortment of tools and features to create selections to fit any circumstance or occasion. One of the more challenging situations is when the intended subject doesn’t have a hard edge or easily discernible border; for example, colored clouds during a sunset. Luminosity masks is a method of using the image to craft selections from itself, which allows unparalleled control over tonal ranges in the image without ever having to touch a selection tool! Step One: This technique isn’t specific to the ...

The Spielberg movie Ready Player One is a fun romp filled with pop culture references and nostalgic nods. The text treatment is also a throwback to 80s-inspired design, which includes effects that are easily accomplished using a variety of layer styles in Photoshop. In this tutorial, we explore several techniques for creative uses of layer styles in crafting a very involved final text effect inspired by Ready Player One. Step One: Begin by creating a new document with File>New. Set the Width to 1000 pixels, the Height to 1500 pixels, the Background Contents to Black, and click Create....

Using Layer Styles to Create Ready Player One Text close

The Spielberg movie Ready Player One is a fun romp filled with pop culture references and nostalgic nods. The text treatment is also a throwback to 80s-inspired design, which includes effects that are easily accomplished using a variety of layer styles in Photoshop. In this tutorial, we explore several techniques for creative uses of layer styles in crafting a very involved final text effect inspired by Ready Player One. Step One: Begin by creating a new document with File>New. Set the Width to 1000 pixels, the Height to 1500 pixels, the Background Contents to Black, and click Create....

Bright colors, geometric shapes, and clean lines are all hallmarks of retro poster designs of the art-deco era. While they may not still be considered “on trend,” they certainly hold an appeal that’s unique and fun. Usually, these types of designs are done in Illustrator, but Photoshop has some serious vector chops and is more than capable of handling the task. In this tutorial, we’ll explore some of the vector features that Photoshop has to offer. We’ll use a vector image from Adobe stock, but if you prefer to use the watermarked JPEG, we’ve included instructions on how to make that wor...

Create a Retro Style Poster in Photoshop close

Bright colors, geometric shapes, and clean lines are all hallmarks of retro poster designs of the art-deco era. While they may not still be considered “on trend,” they certainly hold an appeal that’s unique and fun. Usually, these types of designs are done in Illustrator, but Photoshop has some serious vector chops and is more than capable of handling the task. In this tutorial, we’ll explore some of the vector features that Photoshop has to offer. We’ll use a vector image from Adobe stock, but if you prefer to use the watermarked JPEG, we’ve included instructions on how to make that wor...

Craft a Portrait Quote

with Kirk Nelson

Combining a portrait headshot along with a quote is a time-honored practice that’s been used for generations. The classic practice of placing the quote beneath the portrait can get a bit stale once you’ve seen it a few hundred times. Instead, why not incorporate the quote directly into the portrait? One of the benefits of the human face is that it’s nearly symmetrical. That means one half of the face is virtually redundant when it comes to visual information. So, using text to create that half won’t obscure the identity of the portrait. The result is a technique that adds a lot of visual in...

Craft a Portrait Quote close

Combining a portrait headshot along with a quote is a time-honored practice that’s been used for generations. The classic practice of placing the quote beneath the portrait can get a bit stale once you’ve seen it a few hundred times. Instead, why not incorporate the quote directly into the portrait? One of the benefits of the human face is that it’s nearly symmetrical. That means one half of the face is virtually redundant when it comes to visual information. So, using text to create that half won’t obscure the identity of the portrait. The result is a technique that adds a lot of visual in...

Create a Miniature Scene

with Kirk Nelson

The images that capture our imagination are almost always a result of depicting something unusual or downright impossible. The curious nature of our minds is naturally drawn to things we haven’t seen before, or may never be able to see. That’s part of the fun of crafting a photo-illustration. To take an impossible concept, like playing chess against a miniature person who is no bigger than the pieces, and make that concept come to life. In this tutorial we’ll composite two images to create a convincing scene of a chess game against an impossible opponent! Step One: Setting the scene for ...

Create a Miniature Scene close

The images that capture our imagination are almost always a result of depicting something unusual or downright impossible. The curious nature of our minds is naturally drawn to things we haven’t seen before, or may never be able to see. That’s part of the fun of crafting a photo-illustration. To take an impossible concept, like playing chess against a miniature person who is no bigger than the pieces, and make that concept come to life. In this tutorial we’ll composite two images to create a convincing scene of a chess game against an impossible opponent! Step One: Setting the scene for ...

Did we really need a new Jumanji movie? The original is well loved with a brilliant performance by the late Robin Williams. But if you’ve seen it recently, you might agree that the effects don’t really hold up all that well. We never got a sequel (and no, Zathura doesn’t count!), so maybe it’s time to revisit the world of the mysterious game with the jungle drums. Regardless of how you feel about the new movie, the poster title treatments are well designed, and that very distinctive, jungle-themed text effect is something that we can accomplish in Photoshop without having to spend a deca...

Craft a Jungle-Themed Text Effect close

Did we really need a new Jumanji movie? The original is well loved with a brilliant performance by the late Robin Williams. But if you’ve seen it recently, you might agree that the effects don’t really hold up all that well. We never got a sequel (and no, Zathura doesn’t count!), so maybe it’s time to revisit the world of the mysterious game with the jungle drums. Regardless of how you feel about the new movie, the poster title treatments are well designed, and that very distinctive, jungle-themed text effect is something that we can accomplish in Photoshop without having to spend a deca...

Are you watching the new Fox TV series, The Gifted? If not, you might want to consider it, if only for the visual effects. One of the more impressive effects in the show surrounds a character called Blink who can create portals. Her portals crackle with a bright pinkish purple energy and instantly transport anything that goes through it to somewhere else. It’s an inspirational effect and one that can be replicated in Photoshop! This tutorial will use a couple of stock images from Adobe stock and some clever applications of the powerful filters in Photoshop to create a portal from a cloud...

Create a Blink-Inspired Portal Effect close

Are you watching the new Fox TV series, The Gifted? If not, you might want to consider it, if only for the visual effects. One of the more impressive effects in the show surrounds a character called Blink who can create portals. Her portals crackle with a bright pinkish purple energy and instantly transport anything that goes through it to somewhere else. It’s an inspirational effect and one that can be replicated in Photoshop! This tutorial will use a couple of stock images from Adobe stock and some clever applications of the powerful filters in Photoshop to create a portal from a cloud...

Portraits are a great way to communicate a person’s likeness. Personality portraits are a great way to communicate what a person likes. By blending in visual representations of hobbies and interests, it’s possible to tell much more about a person than just how they appear. Personality portraits are a creative way to build a visual personality into a portrait, so it truly is more than just another pretty face! In this project, we’ll use some of Photoshop’s 3D features along with some stock from a plug-in to craft a portrait of a woman who clearly enjoys music. This project will be built a...

Create Your Own Personality Portrait close

Portraits are a great way to communicate a person’s likeness. Personality portraits are a great way to communicate what a person likes. By blending in visual representations of hobbies and interests, it’s possible to tell much more about a person than just how they appear. Personality portraits are a creative way to build a visual personality into a portrait, so it truly is more than just another pretty face! In this project, we’ll use some of Photoshop’s 3D features along with some stock from a plug-in to craft a portrait of a woman who clearly enjoys music. This project will be built a...

As summer winds to a close, you may find yourself trying to get in one last picnic or barbecue before the season closes. A staple at any backyard summer cookout is the vaunted watermelon; that sweet summery flavor is a favorite of the season. In this tutorial, we celebrate the incredible juiciness of the fruit by making it appear even more like its namesake and create a watermelon that’s filled with water. For this project we’ll use a couple stock images, one of a watermelon and the other with several water splashes, which are available at stock.adobe.com. To obtain the stock images used...

Send Summer out with A Splash close

As summer winds to a close, you may find yourself trying to get in one last picnic or barbecue before the season closes. A staple at any backyard summer cookout is the vaunted watermelon; that sweet summery flavor is a favorite of the season. In this tutorial, we celebrate the incredible juiciness of the fruit by making it appear even more like its namesake and create a watermelon that’s filled with water. For this project we’ll use a couple stock images, one of a watermelon and the other with several water splashes, which are available at stock.adobe.com. To obtain the stock images used...

One of the most exciting new technologies is the advent of 360° video. These videos present a full wrap-around panorama that can be explored interactively with the correct viewer. Facebook includes an easy way to use this viewer simply by marking a video as 360°. It allows viewers to physically turn around and explore the video with their mobile device, as if their phone was able to let them see into a separate virtual realm that surrounds them! Creating a full 360° video usually requires a special (and expensive) camera, but by using a simple DSLR and a bit of Photoshop know-how, we can...

Create Your Own 360° Panoramic Animation close

One of the most exciting new technologies is the advent of 360° video. These videos present a full wrap-around panorama that can be explored interactively with the correct viewer. Facebook includes an easy way to use this viewer simply by marking a video as 360°. It allows viewers to physically turn around and explore the video with their mobile device, as if their phone was able to let them see into a separate virtual realm that surrounds them! Creating a full 360° video usually requires a special (and expensive) camera, but by using a simple DSLR and a bit of Photoshop know-how, we can...

Creative Self-Portrait

with Kirk Nelson

The self-portrait is a time-honored exercise that allows artists to hone their craft. For a fun twist, imagine if a person was actually able to draw himself! Not an image of themselves, but their real presence, as if what they’re drawing is actually coming to life. In this project, we’ll use Photoshop to accomplish just that. Photoshop does have some filters that can approximate the appearance of a sketch, but frequently those look very mechanical and filtered. If you have the skill to actually draw a self-portrait, you might not even need the filters. The suggested approach is to use th...

Creative Self-Portrait close

The self-portrait is a time-honored exercise that allows artists to hone their craft. For a fun twist, imagine if a person was actually able to draw himself! Not an image of themselves, but their real presence, as if what they’re drawing is actually coming to life. In this project, we’ll use Photoshop to accomplish just that. Photoshop does have some filters that can approximate the appearance of a sketch, but frequently those look very mechanical and filtered. If you have the skill to actually draw a self-portrait, you might not even need the filters. The suggested approach is to use th...

The camera shutter is devised to capture a single moment in time—a snap that freezes movement and records a split second. Yet when used over an extended period of time, the whole idea changes dramatically. One of the most fun experiments you can do with a long shutter exposure is to create light streaks. This is somewhat similar to the effect our eyes see when somebody waves a sparkler through the air. By using this technique to create light streak resources, we can then use Photoshop to draw out more complicated elements with those resources. In this project, we give a ballet dancer a s...

Craft Your Own Set of Energy Wings close

The camera shutter is devised to capture a single moment in time—a snap that freezes movement and records a split second. Yet when used over an extended period of time, the whole idea changes dramatically. One of the most fun experiments you can do with a long shutter exposure is to create light streaks. This is somewhat similar to the effect our eyes see when somebody waves a sparkler through the air. By using this technique to create light streak resources, we can then use Photoshop to draw out more complicated elements with those resources. In this project, we give a ballet dancer a s...

The surface of a body of water is a unique threshold. Our natural vision isn’t able to view the world above and below the water at the same time. That unfamiliarity contributes to why we find artwork that depicts both so compelling. The piece can be even more compelling when the area that’s usually hidden by the water’s surface reveals something surprising, like islands that are free-floating and not connected to the ocean floor. Imagine if such a phenomenon did exist. That would be the least likely place to build a lighthouse, which is expected to be a stable, stationary marker of the ocea...

Create an Over/Under Water Landscape close

The surface of a body of water is a unique threshold. Our natural vision isn’t able to view the world above and below the water at the same time. That unfamiliarity contributes to why we find artwork that depicts both so compelling. The piece can be even more compelling when the area that’s usually hidden by the water’s surface reveals something surprising, like islands that are free-floating and not connected to the ocean floor. Imagine if such a phenomenon did exist. That would be the least likely place to build a lighthouse, which is expected to be a stable, stationary marker of the ocea...

Dog Portrait Retouching

with Kirk Nelson

One of the most unique courses recently added to the KelbyOne training library is a course called Dog Photography: Overcoming Challenging Situations by Kaylee Greer. In her course, Kaylee outlines some exceptional techniques for capturing the gaze of dogs who aren’t quite used to being models. These beloved pets aren’t trained to sit still for the cameras, and often you get just a brief moment to grab a capture before the dog looks away again. In the suggestions, Kaylee discusses how leashes and handlers can frequently be removed from the image afterwards. In this tutorial, we explore so...

Dog Portrait Retouching close

One of the most unique courses recently added to the KelbyOne training library is a course called Dog Photography: Overcoming Challenging Situations by Kaylee Greer. In her course, Kaylee outlines some exceptional techniques for capturing the gaze of dogs who aren’t quite used to being models. These beloved pets aren’t trained to sit still for the cameras, and often you get just a brief moment to grab a capture before the dog looks away again. In the suggestions, Kaylee discusses how leashes and handlers can frequently be removed from the image afterwards. In this tutorial, we explore so...

Plug-ins for Photoshop are a fascinating sub-industry to the larger photography/Photoshop arena. Plug-in developers seek to find a capability that’s non-existent or not so strong in the base application and expand on that. One of the most interesting plug-ins available is the ParticleShop plug-in from Corel. In January of 2017, Corel released an updated version of this exciting technology. If you’re familiar with the first installment of the plug-in, you probably already know how the plug-in allows you to “paint with particles” and add vibrant, energetic effects to your images. This late...

Create Painted Effects with ParticleShop close

Plug-ins for Photoshop are a fascinating sub-industry to the larger photography/Photoshop arena. Plug-in developers seek to find a capability that’s non-existent or not so strong in the base application and expand on that. One of the most interesting plug-ins available is the ParticleShop plug-in from Corel. In January of 2017, Corel released an updated version of this exciting technology. If you’re familiar with the first installment of the plug-in, you probably already know how the plug-in allows you to “paint with particles” and add vibrant, energetic effects to your images. This late...

On the flipside of creating images that are tack sharp is the idea of embracing the beauty of a softer focus. Instead of being dismissed as a technical flaw, soft-focus projects can have a romantic, dreamy look. This idea matches well with a high-key approach that’s common in glamour photography. While this is typically accomplished in-camera, it can also be simulated easily in Photoshop with a variety of techniques. This tutorial steps through several techniques that individually can produce a soft-focus effect, but when used together they create a beautiful result that can be quite stunni...

Create a Romantic Soft-Focus Portrait Effect close

On the flipside of creating images that are tack sharp is the idea of embracing the beauty of a softer focus. Instead of being dismissed as a technical flaw, soft-focus projects can have a romantic, dreamy look. This idea matches well with a high-key approach that’s common in glamour photography. While this is typically accomplished in-camera, it can also be simulated easily in Photoshop with a variety of techniques. This tutorial steps through several techniques that individually can produce a soft-focus effect, but when used together they create a beautiful result that can be quite stunni...

The very idea of flying has always captivated our human imagination. As creatures that are naturally restricted to the ground, we often entertain the fantasy of being able to shrug off the chains of gravity and will ourselves to be lighter than air. Levitation photography seeks to capture that yearning by crafting the impossibility of flight in a surreal setting. A successful project is more than just a composite of two images; it’s the artistic nature of the composition that evokes the emotional response. In this project we’ll walk through the steps of capturing the photos, compositing ...

Create a Surreal Levitation Photography Project close

The very idea of flying has always captivated our human imagination. As creatures that are naturally restricted to the ground, we often entertain the fantasy of being able to shrug off the chains of gravity and will ourselves to be lighter than air. Levitation photography seeks to capture that yearning by crafting the impossibility of flight in a surreal setting. A successful project is more than just a composite of two images; it’s the artistic nature of the composition that evokes the emotional response. In this project we’ll walk through the steps of capturing the photos, compositing ...

With winter rearing its frosty head in most parts of the country, it’s likely that most outdoor photography will involve the elements of the season. As beautiful as it is, shooting in falling snow can be quite a challenge. Those delicate flakes are composed of water after all, and traditionally water and cameras don’t mix very well. The erratic nature of falling snow also presents its own challenges. It’s impossible to keep flakes from obscuring your subject’s face, and if the flakes are large enough, they can play havoc with your auto-focus sensors—all leading to a potentially very cold, f...

Create a Winter Portrait with Realistic Falling Snow close

With winter rearing its frosty head in most parts of the country, it’s likely that most outdoor photography will involve the elements of the season. As beautiful as it is, shooting in falling snow can be quite a challenge. Those delicate flakes are composed of water after all, and traditionally water and cameras don’t mix very well. The erratic nature of falling snow also presents its own challenges. It’s impossible to keep flakes from obscuring your subject’s face, and if the flakes are large enough, they can play havoc with your auto-focus sensors—all leading to a potentially very cold, f...

Realistic Photo to Painting

with Kirk Nelson

Photo painting is a method of achieving a quick and effective painted effect that’s more convincing than any filter. As a disclaimer, this approach isn’t intended to undermine or devalue the traditional painters who have spent years developing their painting skills. This is just to show an option that’s accessible to mere humans and produces good results. There are three main elements to making this technique work like it does: Photoshop’s Mixer Brush tool, the Bristle Brush tips, and a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet. It’s possible to do this with a mouse or trackpad, in the same way...

Realistic Photo to Painting close

Photo painting is a method of achieving a quick and effective painted effect that’s more convincing than any filter. As a disclaimer, this approach isn’t intended to undermine or devalue the traditional painters who have spent years developing their painting skills. This is just to show an option that’s accessible to mere humans and produces good results. There are three main elements to making this technique work like it does: Photoshop’s Mixer Brush tool, the Bristle Brush tips, and a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet. It’s possible to do this with a mouse or trackpad, in the same way...

Backyard Jungle

with Kirk Nelson

Summer is over now, but one of the most time-honored traditions of the American homeowner is procrastinating the weekly lawn care. The grass has a way of subtly dissuading this type of behavior because the following week the task becomes twice as difficult. Put it off for yet another week and you could find yourself faced with quite the backyard jungle! This project seeks to capture that feeling of being overwhelmed by simple grass. It uses a handful of stock images from Adobe Stock and several different compositing techniques to bring the full scene together. Step One: Start by creating...

Backyard Jungle close

Summer is over now, but one of the most time-honored traditions of the American homeowner is procrastinating the weekly lawn care. The grass has a way of subtly dissuading this type of behavior because the following week the task becomes twice as difficult. Put it off for yet another week and you could find yourself faced with quite the backyard jungle! This project seeks to capture that feeling of being overwhelmed by simple grass. It uses a handful of stock images from Adobe Stock and several different compositing techniques to bring the full scene together. Step One: Start by creating...

One of the most interesting features of the Photoshop 2015.5 release is a helpful addition to Liquify, a filter that’s already heavily used by photo retouchers everywhere. This amazing new technology called Face Aware automatically detects faces in an image, assigns regions to recognizable facial features, and builds in controls to edit those features. This was developed to assist with portrait beauty retouching, but in this tutorial, we push it past its intended limits and use it to create a humorous photo caricature! Step One: Selecting just the right portrait to use for a caricature i...

Use Face Aware Liquify to Create a Caricature close

One of the most interesting features of the Photoshop 2015.5 release is a helpful addition to Liquify, a filter that’s already heavily used by photo retouchers everywhere. This amazing new technology called Face Aware automatically detects faces in an image, assigns regions to recognizable facial features, and builds in controls to edit those features. This was developed to assist with portrait beauty retouching, but in this tutorial, we push it past its intended limits and use it to create a humorous photo caricature! Step One: Selecting just the right portrait to use for a caricature i...

One of the features Adobe has included in recent upgrades to Photoshop CC is the Flame filter. Many users may have passed over this feature due to the highly specific situations that would require it. But with a bit of exploration and some creative application of stock images, blend modes, and layer masks, this filter can be quite useful in crafting a high-energy image with a lot of visual impact. In this tutorial, we make use of some excellent Adobe Stock images and the Flame filter to create this striking dragon-fisted fighter! Step One: Open the fighter image and create a new layer wi...

Create a Dragon-Fisted Fighter close

One of the features Adobe has included in recent upgrades to Photoshop CC is the Flame filter. Many users may have passed over this feature due to the highly specific situations that would require it. But with a bit of exploration and some creative application of stock images, blend modes, and layer masks, this filter can be quite useful in crafting a high-energy image with a lot of visual impact. In this tutorial, we make use of some excellent Adobe Stock images and the Flame filter to create this striking dragon-fisted fighter! Step One: Open the fighter image and create a new layer wi...

One of the biggest challenges of photographing a popular location is the very fact that the location is popular, which means crowds are frequently blocking the shot. This is particularly challenging with larger locations like monuments and memorials where people can get up close to the attraction. There aren’t many solutions to physically removing the crowd, other than waiting in frustration. But digitally, there are some techniques that can be quite helpful. In this tutorial, we take frames from a video and combine all the empty spaces between the crowds to complete a single, gloriously cr...

Remove a Crowd with Video Frames close

One of the biggest challenges of photographing a popular location is the very fact that the location is popular, which means crowds are frequently blocking the shot. This is particularly challenging with larger locations like monuments and memorials where people can get up close to the attraction. There aren’t many solutions to physically removing the crowd, other than waiting in frustration. But digitally, there are some techniques that can be quite helpful. In this tutorial, we take frames from a video and combine all the empty spaces between the crowds to complete a single, gloriously cr...
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